Recently, Methodists Applaud LGBTQ+ Clergy Decision Amid Ongoing Disaffiliation

Recently, Methodists Applaud LGBTQ+ Clergy Decision Amid Ongoing Disaffiliation

DEBARYLIFE – People who identify as LGBTQ+ will be able to become clergy members thanks to a historic decision that took place in the United Methodist Church last Wednesday.

Following decades of controversy within the UMC’s General Conference, many churches are celebrating the decision, including several in northern Michigan.

Among the biggest Protestant groups in the US is the United Methodist Church.

Approximately every four years, the General Conference gathers. The proposal was accepted by a vote of 692-51 in this year’s conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Pastor Linda Stephan of the Central United Methodist Church in Traverse City said she was taken aback by how quickly the decision was made in spite of years of doubt.

There was also no debate because the bills were on a consent calendar.

Recently, Methodists Applaud LGBTQ+ Clergy Decision Amid Ongoing Disaffiliation (1)

Stephan admitted, “I didn’t think this could happen at all.” “The previous meeting of the General Conference took place only five years ago. They not only made the opposite choice, but they also implemented even stricter regulations. Our hearts were broken beyond repair.

SEE MORE – ‘BIG Breaking News?’ United Methodists End Decades-Long Ban On LGBTQ Clergy

The Central United Methodist Church has long been accepting of LGBTQ people before the ruling.

At the Central United Methodist Church in Traverse City, Associate Pastor Joan VanDessel (right) and Pastor Linda Stephan (left) are in charge. (Central UMC provided the photo.)
The Michigan Conference, which approved it in 2022, saw the ordination of Associate Pastor Joan VanDessel as the first openly gay pastor.

She reported that her church is now completely in line with her denomination.

She remarked, “It feels like this sort of weight has been lifted off, like a backpack of rocks has been removed.”

New safeguards for same-sex unions are also included in the verdict. The practice of clergy holding weddings is no longer punishable.

The decision means that most of the worship practices of Central United Methodist Church will not change. According to Stephan and Vandessel, they are thrilled to “be part of the healing.”

Stephan declared, “We shall not stop affirming everyone, worshiping God in spirit and truth, and remaining the United Methodist Church—open hearts, open minds, open doors.”

For many years, there has been internal conflict within the church regarding its position on LGBTQ+ rights. Over 120 churches in Michigan are among the nearly 25% of UMC membership churches that have disassociated in recent years.

Some churches decided to continue operating independently of one another in the wake of the historic separation, while others joined the newly established Global Methodist Church, which has more conservative views on LGBTQ+ rights.

Last year, a Pickford, Michigan, Methodist church switched from the UMC to the GMC. Pickford is located in the eastern Upper Peninsula.

Pastor Tim Bashore stated that leaving the United Methodist Church was not an easy decision, even if LGBTQ+ inclusiveness was a “main issue.”

“At that point, we made the decision that we could no longer support that denomination,” Bashore stated. And we took off. Thank God, there was a different denomination present to rescue us.

SEE MORE – A New Era! United Methodist Church Opens Clergy Doors to LGBTQ+ Members

The GMC upholds the notion that a man and a woman should only be married once. Other Michigan churches that have recently joined the GMC are the Gaylord Methodist Church and the Korean UMC in Troy.

Bashore stated that he thinks the UMC’s decision is the result of dwindling membership.

A Pew Research Center report indicates that the percentage of people who identify as Christians has decreased from 90 percent in the early 1990s to 66.6 percent in 2022. The shift, according to the study, can be attributed to adults who no longer connect with their upbringing’s religion and instead have a secular affiliation.

In the United States, the UMC reported 29,746 churches and 5,424,175 members as of 2022.

The United Methodist Church in Traverse City and the Global Methodist Church in Pickford have declared that they will keep talking to religious persons who hold different opinions.

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